1819 ­ 1820.



1819 POLITICAL parties at this time were divided into Republicans (Democrats), Federalists, and Clintonians. At the spring election the average Republican majority in the city was 2301.

May 31. The balance in the City Treasury was $1850.34. The receipts from all sources for the year preceding were $682,829.51, and the total expenses, $671,319.83; equal to $5.60 per capita. In 1884 the expenses were $36.65, or full 6­1/2 times as much.

February 23 General Andrew Jackson visited New York, and was presented with the freedom of the city. At an entertainment given in honor of his presence by the Fourteenth Regiment, he responded to a call by giving a complimentary toast to De Witt Clinton, which, as he was then surrounded by political enemies of Clinton, was not only the cause of confusion but elicited comment.

In this year Harman Street (East Broadway) was extended from Chatham Square to Grand Street, Avenue D was opened, and the sewer in Canal Street was finished.

By an official return there were, on April 26, only twenty­two licensed butchers in the city, paying a license fee of one dollar each.

May 25. A party left Tompkinsville, S.I., in a post stage, at 3 A.M., for Philadelphia, and returned at 8 P.M. This was an endeavor to illustrate the great despatch of the route. Fare, eight dollars each way.

A stage to Bloomingdale from the lower part of the city was established.

Jacob Barker and Samuel Hazard applied for a charter for the Exchange Bank, with a capital of one million dollars.

An ocean steamship company, with Cadwallader D. Colden, John Whettin, and Henry Eckford as trustees, was organized, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, with power to increase to five hundred thousand. In March of this year was built the steamer Savannah - of 380 tons, old measurement, said to have had folding water­wheels, which were taken out and laid on deck when not in use, presumably when she was under sail alone. She sailed to Savannah and thence to Liverpool, where she arrived on June 20, the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

In July Rose Butler, a negro wench who had been convicted of arson (inasmuch as she had maliciously set fire to some combustible materials under a stairway, which was readily discovered and extinguished), was publicly hanged in Potter's Field, now the site of the Washington Parade Ground. A leading daily paper referred to her execution in a paragraph of five lines, without noticing any of the unnecessary and absurd details that are given at the present day in like cases; neither was her dying speech recorded, much less transmitted to other countries, as in the case of a recent execution in England.

In August a case of yellow fever occurred in the vicinity of Old Slip, and, soon after, the disease became epidemic, so much so as to render necessary the removal of contiguous inhabitants and the closing of the infected area by a fence.

October 22. Thomas Cooper, the celebrated tragedian, appeared here. During the temporary closing of the Park Theatre, the Anthony Street Theatre, newly fitted and renamed the Pavilion, was reopened. At this house William Leggett appeared, in July, for the first time on the stage. His success warranted but two or three appearances, yet at the Bowery Theatre, in 1826, he made another attempt, wherein he failed decisively. Leggett was an eminent critic and a close student of the drama, and had an eager desire for theatrical fame, but he did not possess the qualities required by the stage. Alike to a well­known municipal official who appeared much later, he was deficient in facial expression. West's circus was opened in Broadway between Grand and Howard streets, having a ring and a stage. It was opened on the 9th of September with "The Spy." Many years after its closing, the building, converted to a horse market under the style of Tattersall's, was one of the best­known places of the town.

Jacob Cram, who had opened a distillery in Washington Street, removed to the corner of Broadway and Canal Street, occupying the entire front on Canal Street to Cortlandt Alley. About the same time a company for furnishing warm baths was established in Chambers Street, the first and then the only one in New York. Bath racecourse on Long Island was opened, and its officers gave notice that faro, roulette, "sweat­cloth," and like devices for gambling would not be permitted.

An aeronaut by the name of Guille ascended in a balloon from Paulus Hook and, in accordance with the practice of the day, he detached the wicker basket in which he was seated and was arrested in his descent by the attached parachute. This was the first balloon ascension in America.

A piratical vessel was seen off Sandy Hook.

The advent of Easter Day, the notices of the churches, florists, etc., lead me to reflect upon the changes in customs, observances, etc., from the early period of these reminiscences, in addition to those previously noted.

Thus: Lent and its services were then very indifferently observed. The service on Easter Day in some of the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches differed from the usual services only in the introduction of an anthem; flowers were not displayed either in churches or private dwellings; in fact, the contribution of all the florists, possibly two in number, would not have been equal to the usual display in any one church at this time. "Easter bonnets" and cards were unknown, and colored eggs were limited to schoolboys, who, with the aid of the cooks in their families, were enabled to produce some. For a few weeks during the periods of Easter and Paas, the cracking of eggs by boys supplanted marbles, kite­flying, and base­ball.

December 21: At the corner of Broadway and Cortlandt Street, a personal encounter occurred between James Stoughton, the Spanish Vice­consul, and Robert M. Goodwin, a brother of Captain Charles G. Ridgeley, U.S.N.; the latter having had his name changed, to become the recipient of a legacy left upon that consideration. Goodwin had been captain of a privateer during the Spanish war, and Stoughton had had him arrested and sent to Ludlow Street jail on the charge of piracy. Meeting as above, and after personal charges and invectives, Stoughton struck Goodwin and a struggle ensued. Goodwin having a sword cane, the blade of which became exposed, he struck Stoughton, who fell and soon after expired. Goodwin was tried and in the early part of the following year acquitted. In 1836 Captain (then Commodore) Ridgeley gave me a recital of the affair, and of his summary action upon a negro who waited upon him at the City Hotel in bed, and offered to give testimony in vindication of his brother, if he was paid for it. Public opinion was very much divided upon the guilt of Goodwin.

Joseph Rodman Drake published his "Culprit Fay" in this year.

George W. Browne, who failed as a grocer in the Bowery, opened the Auction Hotel at 239 Water Street, where viands of all kinds were well and cleanly served- meats, etc., at one shilling per plate, puddings and pies sixpence per cut, and liquors sixpence per glass. He was the pioneer in this class of eating­houses. In the course of years he realized a sum that enabled him to pay all his old creditors, principal and interest. At the southwest corner of Fulton and Nassau streets there was a resort, known as the Shakespeare Hotel, essentially a restaurant, kept by a Mr. Thomas Hodgkinson, who had previously kept a restaurant at 53 Nassau Street, and in 1825 he was succeeded by his son­in­law, James C. Stoneall, who was an exceptionally courtly man, an attentive and obliging landlord, and approved caterer; so much so that his house was unquestionably the most popular one of the period.

A well­known resort for "things of use and things of sport "-to quote from his ingenious catalogue-was a store at 305 Broadway, kept by Joseph Bonfanti (in 1818 at 20 Chatham Street), who was familiar not only to all of that day, but much later. He committed suicide years afterward.

John Charraud, an emigre, or, more properly, a refugee, from the island of Hayti after the revolution there, opened a dancing­school at 47 Murray Street; he subsequently gave his "publics" at the City Hotel, and divided the honor of the Terpsichorean art with Berrault, previously referred to. Waltzing at this time had not been introduced.

A well­recognized character of the day was a mulatto who followed the business of coat­scouring, known as "Dandy" Cox. He drove a rather stylish two­wheeled business vehicle, and sometimes a Stanhope with a negro "tiger" behind; was always very well and even fashionably dressed, usually in a green jockey­coat with brass buttons His wife, at such evening parties as her lord and herself gave to their many acquaintances, was in the habit of retiring several times during the evening and reappearing in an entire change of dress.

This is the first year in which I saw maple sugar. It was sold in confectioneries, its look in no wise inviting, from the smoke being permitted to enter into or upon it in process of boiling the sap; very dark in color and not agreeable in taste. It was some years afterward before it was improved in manufacture, and many years before it was introduced in such a quantity as to become of general domestic use in cities and an article of merchandise.

The newspapers were delivered by carriers; "Extras" were unknown; and an occurrence after the printing of a paper which seemed worthy of especial advice was put in a slip, as it was termed, and posted on a bulletin; others being mailed to editors in neighboring cities.

There were several gentlemen residing in the lower part of the city who were frequently seen walking up Broadway, Greenwich Street, or the Bowery shouldering a gun, and followed by their dogs, on the way to the suburbs for the shooting of woodcock, English snipe, and rabbits-as the Lispenard Meadows, Tompkins Square, Broadway from Forty­sixth Street to the North River; Fifth Avenue at Thirty­second Street, and Second and Third avenues from Ninetieth Street to One Hundred and Third Street; and the low land from Sixteenth Street to Twenty­third Street and Sixth to Ninth Avenue.

The census of the year gave 119,657 inhabitants, including 11,764 aliens and 250 slaves.

Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton, who held a monopoly of steam navigation of the Hudson River, enjoined Robert L. Stevens from running his steamboat Phoenix upon it, whereupon he transferred her under his personal direction to Philadelphia; and this was the first coastwise navigation by steam. He gave me a recital of the passage and the operation of the vessel.

Overcoats ­­ termed top­coats-were of drab cloth, made loose, and gathered in the back with a strap and buckle. Over the shoulders were capes, false or full; the former were one or two capes with pleats on the outer edge, purposed to represent capes; the others were full capes, overlapping each other by about an inch in width, the whole fastened under the collar of the coat by buttons, in order that such a heavy incumbrance might be removed at pleasure.

Abraham Van Nest purchased the Warren House and ground, occupying an entire block, bounded by Fourth, Charles, Bleecker, and Perry streets, for $15,000.

1820. The result of a census of the United States was announced as 9,625,734; of Boston, 43,893; Baltimore, 62,627; New York, 123,706, and Philadelphia, 133,273-being nearly 10,000 in excess of New York.

In illustration of the value of improved real estate at this time, a house and lot No. 20 Wall Street, between William and Broad streets, was taxed $60.20,, one at No. 9 New Street, $7.36, and one at 8 Park Place, $31.50. Ex­Mayor Daniel F. Tiemann's father and uncle leased twenty­one lots on Twenty­third Street near Broadway at $3.00 per annum. They had previously leased on Fifth Avenue, Nineteenth and Twentieth streets, sixty lots at $50.00per year. In 1840 a portion of the lots leased by them, 1820, on Fifth Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth streets, was sold for $27,000, and Arnold & Constable in 1868 paid $375,000 for them.

March 8 the New York American, published and edited by Charles King, was established at 10 Broad Street. The New York Lead Works began operations in Broadway near Art Street (Astor Place); Broadway at this point was unpaved.

Robert Swartwout, Alderman, proposed to enlarge the Park by extending it to Ann, Beekman, and Nassau streets, so as to make it as nearly square as practicable.

State and Charter offices, and the incumbents thereof, were held in much higher esteem than they are at the present time. This cannot be better shown than by the circumstance that for the election of the year in the First Ward of the city, such men as Isaac Pearson, Peter H. Schenck, and Augustus Wynkoop, were appointed inspectors, and Gulian C. Verplanck, Samuel B. Romaine, Reuben Munson, Robert R. Hunter and others of like stamp were elected to the Assembly.

In this year Henry Eckford built at his yard in Brooklyn, near the Navy Yard, the first veritable steamer, the Robert Fulton, as in contra­distinction to a steamboat, that is, she was a full- or square­ rigged ship.

May 25. The Park Theatre was destroyed by fire; the origin of it was assigned to the lodging of inflammable wadding in one of the flies, from the discharge of firearms in a piece termed "The Siege of Tripoli," written bv Mordecai M. Noah, the editor of the Advocate, the leading Republican (Democratic) paper of the day. The Pavilion, in Anthony Street, was immediately leased and opened by the management of the Park.

The service of the North River Steamboat line to Albany was two round trips per week, fare six dollars each way.

Peter Cooper opened a grocery store in the Bowery, corner of Stuyvesant Street. About this year he removed his house, later known as the Cooper Mansion, located on the present site of the Bible House on Eighth Street between Third and Fourth avenues, to its present site on Fourth Avenue, corner of Twenty­eighth Street.

Mr. Cooper directed the taking down of the structure, and the marking of each essential part, so that it might be put up in its proper place in the progress of the reconstruction.

No citizen of New York has made a more enduring impression upon the city of his birth than Mr. Cooper. He was inherently a philanthropist, and firm in his convictions. In illustration, when his son, Edward Cooper, was a candidate for the State Senate, I was waited upon by a delegation of Germans to introduce it to the candidate for the purpose of ascertaining his views upon the proposed change in the temperance laws. When we reached his residence, he being absent, Mr. Cooper responded for him, firmly announcing his opposition to any extension of the laws whereby the evils of intemperance might be advanced. He took an active part in the conduct of the Public School Society and in the transfer to the Board of Education, of which he was one of the first Commissioners. He was on the committee of the Board of Aldermen who introduced the Croton water.

His foundation of the Cooper Union will perpetuate his memory as the chief benefactor of the city during his day end generation. He lived to see all his ideas for the public benefit accomplished, and died at the ripe age of ninety­two, beloved and regretted by the whole people of the city which he loved so well.

As lotteries, under certain regulations as to the drawings, which were had upon the esplanade in front of the City Hall, in the presence of an alderman, were authorized by law, there were many offices in the city, notably one at the southwest corner of Broadway and Park Place kept by Aaron Clark, a much reputed citizen, who in 1837 was elected Mayor. Few things exhibit more clearly the development of the public conscience than the change of feeling concerning lotteries. Even at a period considerably later than the date now under consideration, these enterprises were in no disfavor, and many persons yet engaged in active life can remember when lotteries were an occupation of some of the best citizens of this and neighboring communities, men of integrity and piety. Indeed, not long before our date, grants by legislatures of lottery privileges as a means of raising money for founding churches were by no means infrequent. Now, such is the change of sentiment that the last lottery has been expelled from the country; even our easy­going fellow­citizens of Louisiana (largely of Latin origin) resolving to banish it. The retrospect of a long life must lead one, however disposed by the laws of human nature to be laudator temporis acti, to the conclusion that, at least in some particulars, the world is improved since he came into it.

In illustration of the difference in the consideration given to cold drinks in 1819, and at the present time, it should be noted that the Humane Society issued a proclamation to the citizens, warning them against the injurious use of cold water. "Cold water" at that day, and for many years afterward, was that drawn from a street pump; the use of ice for domestic purposes, as before observed, was unknown. So injurious was the use of this "cold " (pump) water declared to be, that persons indulging in it were advised first to wet their foreheads and wrists. In some schools and factories the water was tempered with molasses, or slightly with elixir of vitriol.

May 31. The ship of the line Ohio was launched from the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, and as she was larger than any vessel that had been launched in the United States up to that time, the attendance of persons exceeded that at any public exhibition that had ever occurred, and the day was made a general holiday.

In August yellow fever was epidemic in Philadelphia, and the Mayor of this city, Cadwallader D. Colden, on the 18th issued a proclamation, forbidding the entrance into New York of any person who had been in the former city within thirty days. This, however, was moderated on the 29th inst. to ten days, and on the 17th of October it was revoked.

In this month a boat­ferry was established from foot of Spring Street to Hoboken, and the mail stage between this city and West Farms was robbed in open day.

Stratford Canning, of England, visited the city. He was shown its different institutions, and on the 20th of September the fire department with its entire plant assembled in the Park, where a light had been set upon a tripod of elevated ladders, and at a signal from Thomas Franklin, the chief engineer, streams of water from engines were directed upon it.

The first religious paper appeared; the New York Observer, edited by Sidney E. and Richard C. Morse.

October 18. The Advocate, edited by Mordecai M. Noah, published a notice of a man with a hand­organ, accompanied by a woman, as having appeared in the public streets, and the question was asked, Who are they?

November 20. Edmund Kean, the great English tragedian, arrived here, and in consequence of the destruction of the Park Theatre by fire in the May previous, he appeared at the Anthony Street Theatre, a very humble structure in that street (Worth), near Broadway. He opened in "Richard III." His last appearance in New York was in the same character at the Park Theatre in December, 1826, he having come to this country for the second time late in 1825.

December 23. The official assize of bread was seventy ounces, for 12­1/2 cents; flour at $4.60 per barrel. The weight at the present day (1894) for a like sum, with flour computed at a like price, should be forty ounces, whereas it is but sixteen ounces, or less than one­half.

About this period a Mr. Laurent Salles, who had been a glove­maker, and who became a merchant at 136 Water Street, was afflicted with such an insatiable appetite that he dined at two or more places at about the same hour. On one occasion Mr. Niblo, who had but lately taken the Bank Coffee House, corner of Pine and William streets, and had but few boarders, provided for them in the early spring of the year a leg of lamb and some green peas (peas in those days were not brought here either by rail or steamer), and as the table was open to the public, Mr. Salles walked in, seated himself, and commenced upon the lamb and peas; the other parties uninterruptedly looking on in amazement. When he had finished all, he arose and asked Mr. Niblo what was the price. "Seventy­five cents, sir, but I never wish to see you again."

The Agricultural Society, for the purpose of stimulating the making of fine butter, gave public notice to persons in the habit of bringing their butter, either to the Fly or Washington Market, that they would award three silver prizes to those presenting the best, to be adjudged by a committee of the Society. This continued for several years, and was the occasion of an improvement in the article. In connection with this, Thomas F. Devoe, in his valuable history of the markets and butchers of the city, recites that one morning a wealthy farmer, who was generally known as a very close shaver, or, in other words, as fond of cheating whenever he had a chance, brought his butter done up in pound rolls. This was when it was scarce and worth two and ninepence, and had a quick sale, which no doubt had induced him to scant the weight in each roll. Unexpectedly the weigh­master saw his butter opened for sale (which the farmer could not quickly cover out of sight), when he prepared his test scale to weigh it; while doing so, the farmer slipped a guinea out of his vest­pocket, and while the weighmaster's back was turned, thrust it into the top roll, as he thought, unperceived by any one. The roll was taken up, and it weighed full weight, which satisfied the weigher without weighing any other. While he was putting up his scale, a Quaker gentleman, who had been standing off a little distance and had seen the whole transaction, came up and enquired the price of his butter. "Three shillings," said the farmer. "Put me up that roll in my kettle," says the Quaker, pointing to the "guinea roll." To which the farmer replied: "I have that roll sold to a friend." "No, thee has not," responded the Quaker, "thee can give thy friend another roll, if they are all good and weigh alike "; and turned to question the weighmaster, who said to the Quaker: "He was entitled to the roll, or any roll he chose to take, if they were priced to him." With this the Quaker took up the guinea roll and placed it in his kettle, then laid down three shillings; and as he was going, he coolly told the farmer: "Thee will not find cheating always profitable."

Macomb's dam (see pp. 78­79) was designed, by the operation of automatic flood­gates, to arrest the water from the East River at full tide (as it flows before that of the North), and then, as it receded, the closing of these gates would impound the water between the dam and Kingsbridge above, at which point like flood­gates and a forebay­ led the receding water to operate a flour mill (see illustration, p. 49); but the removal of the dam (1833) rendered the impounding of the water inoperative.

A recital of the dress of boys, the manner of obtaining it, and the absence of their conveniences and comforts at this period compared with that of the present day, may appear overdrawn, but I write from personal and painful experience, and aptly add, quaeque ipse miserrima vidi.

Upon referring to my notes of the dependence of boys upon their own resources for instruments of sport I see that I have omitted, among many others, that their footballs were made with a bladder purchased from a butcher and covered by a neighboring shoemaker; and upon referring to this and to my preceding record of the customs, dress, etc., etc., at this period of time, I am reminded of the following lines of Pope:

"In words and fashions, the same rule will hold, Alike fantastic, be they new or old;

Be not the first, by whom the new are tried, Or yet the last to lay the old aside."

It is quite probable that the cold bedrooms, the wet feet, in the absence of rubber boots and overshoes, may have led to the survival of the fittest, and many may have fallen by consumption; yet we were not exposed to the baneful effects of the sudden change from heated rooms to the outer air, as in the present day.

In default of hall­stoves, which were not introduced until the use of anthracite coal became general (1830), and of hot­air furnaces, which were not in use until many years after (fully as late as 1850), warming­pans to heat bed­clothes, and foot­stoves for the feet, were much used by elderly persons in the winter season, even to the taking of the stoves to church. Of these warming­pans there is a legend that a well­known and enterprising merchant of an Eastern city sent, amongst other goods, in a shipment to the West Indies, some of these articles which were received by the planters with surprise and amusement. Discovering an use for them, however, they bought them, took off the covers, and, as they were of brass, used them as dippers of cane­juice and molasses.

He was not alone in shipments to the West Indies, for it is historical that Eastern merchants purchased Baltimore clippers, a class of vessel (foretopsail schooners) designed for speed, to be used for transporting fruit or oysters, and especially for slaves and like service involving despatch; but as for general traffic, it was well said of them, their capacity being disproportionate to their cost of maintenance, "they would make a rich man poor, and a poor man a beggar." These same men fitted these vessels for the coast of Africa, for the alleged purpose of procuring "bone and ivory," but they were sometimes captured by British cruisers, and if before they had reached the Coast, upon being examined they were found to have a slave­deck and an undue quantity of water­casks and corn­meal on board, while, if captured after leaving the Coast, the "bone and ivory" were in the form of negro men and women. The deaths of the slaves from their confinement in the foetid air in the hold of the vessel were so frequent that the man­eating shark of the West Indies, Gulf of Mexico, etc., is said to have followed from the Coast in the wake of slave­ships. "Extremes meet" is a common and frequently a truthful aphorism, as illustrated in this case; for the descendants of these men were initiative in the suppression of slavery in this country, performing therein an act of expiation of the "thriftiness" of their ancestors, and some redemption of their social status.

St. Patrick's Church was then surrounded by primitive trees, and a fox was killed in the churchyard.

In this year were founded the Apprentices' Library and the Mercantile Library. The latter was organized at meetings convened for the purpose in November, and began its service of the public early in 1821.

The population of the city at the close of the year was 123,706.